Sarawak Beads

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Sarawak Beads

Sarawak beads are very unique in their own special way and they are not easy to come by. However, we at Green Daun have taken a liking to them for many years, and we now sell them in our new age craft shop.

There are many different types of Sarawak beads available, but it is the trade brads that are mostly sought after by collectors.

Some even call them Borneo glass beads, due to the ethnic designs and it being made from glass, and they differ from different parts of Borneo.

Sarawak Beads

Beads from Sarawak
Some of the common Sarawak beads

The history of Sarawak beads go back a long time ago, around a few centuries during the trading days of ship merchants from China, Middle East and India.

Various ship traders stopped at coastal towns along Sarawak to see what they could trade, and often, smaller traders would exchange beads for produce, and this is how the Sarawak trade beads came about.

Well, the above is just a brief explanation on the history of the trade beads in Sarawak. For further understanding of this, you can read about the Asia maritime bead trade on Google.

In modern times like now, these kind of glass beads tend to suite those who want something different compared the the commercial jewelry designs that are easily available in the market.

Most of the Sarawakian beads are easily found in the cities of Kuching and Miri, while some other smaller places like Sibu and Bintulu may sell them.

In Kuala Lumpur or around Peninsular Malaysia, we doubt that there are shops that sell these beautiful beads in individual pieces. But at Green Daun, you can be assured that we have them for sale.

Sarawak Tribal Beads
A selection of the Sarawak tribal beads that we sell at Green Daun.

Types of Sarawak Beads

There are a few different types of these ethnic beads that we sell at Green Daun. They range from round to oval and come in many different shapes, sizes and colors.

Sarawak Glass Curved Beads – These are the larger types of beads that are hand made and painted. However, just to let you know that they are more commonly known as Bornean hand painted glass beads.

Sarawak Hand Painted Ceramic Beads – These ceramic beads mostly hail from the north of Sarawak, and are a cottage industry where the locals make this as a home business.

Sarawak Glass Seed Beads – Similar to plain colored glass beads, they are usually made in the strong colors, and used to compliment necklace designs.

Sarawak Sago Beads – These are known as Eco friendly beads, as they are made with Sago, that replaces the clay component. Originally, these beads were a test done by University Sarawak, and was promoted at the Borneo Bead Conference in 2017.

Orang Ulu Earrings
Modern contemporary Orang Ulu Kabo design earrings made by Green Daun.

Sarawak Kabo Beads – Known locally as Buah Kabo or Kabo Fruit, these chunky oval beads are handmade using glass seed beads to form the shape of the Kabo.

These are the traditional beads of the Orang Ulu people, namely the Kelabit, Lun Bawang and Kayan people of Sarawak. They are often called Kabo necklace or jewelry.

Sarawak Heirloom Beads – These are known as the treasured beads, that are passed on from generation to generation. Some of these beads are so valuable, they are even priceless.

It is also said that if there is a fire in the longhouse, the first thing that they will rescue are the heirloom beads.

Sarawak Kuching Beads
The beautiful glass painted beads.

Where to Buy Sarawak Beads?

Overall, you need to travel around Sarawak to get certain beads, but over in Kuala Lumpur, you can now buy these kind of beads from us at Green Daun.

At our retail shop, we have a decent variety of Sarawak beads which range from hand painted glass beads, clay beads, Sago beads and even the Orang Ulu Buah Kabo.

Our collection is hand picked and sourced directly from all over Sarawak, hence you can be assured of authenticity of the beads. The only thing we do not sell are the Sarawak heirloom beads.

Kabo Sarawak
Various types of Kabo jewellery pieces.

What is the price of Sarawak Beads?

Because most of the beads are hand made and hand painted, the price varies among one another, and there are no two alike.

Some beads are priced RM2.00 per bead, while some may cost RM25.00 per bead, depending on the size and design.

For better understanding, we recommend you visit our shop to see them in person, and then you can understand the beads much better.

As some people may say, if you do not touch and feel the beads, how would you know the weight, texture and overall outcome of the beads?

Beads are considered something personal and unique to some people, and this is important if you are planning to use them for your creations.

Kabo Necklace
A modern contemporary Kabo designed necklace using glass crystal beads.

Can I use the Sarawak Beads for other jewelry making?

Yes you can, because jewellery is subjective, and you can mix and match them to a modern contemporary style for bracelets, earrings or necklaces.

At Green Daun, we have ready samples using the Sarawakian beads with modern contemporary designs. You can see them to get a better idea on creating unique jewellery pieces.

More importantly, creating modern designs with the various Sarawak beads tends to make your jewellery stand out from the ordinary.

Can I Custom Make Jewelry with These Beads? 

Yes of course you can. All you need to do is visit our shop to see the selection of beads available, and we can customize a bracelet, necklace or earrings for you.

You can mix them with modern day crystal beads and other types of beads that we sell. If you do not have an idea, we can help you with some ideas, and arrange them to your liking.

Sarawak Kabo Necklace
A Kabo inspired design modern contemporary necklace.
Conclusion

If you are a jewellery maker in Malaysia, and want to explore something different, then you can consider using these ethnic beads as one of your components for a finished product.

Many West Malaysians are very conservative, and rarely dare to be different when it comes to jewellery designs.

But again, they are easily influenced by western cultures like the Bohemian movement or Coachella theme, and when these trends become popular, everyone wants to jump on board.

At the end of the day, if you are seeking something totally different and unique for your jewellery designs, we would recommend you try using  the various Sarawak beads.

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